Architectural photographer, José Campos had the privilege of being born in an architectural paradise: Porto, Portugal. Having trained as an architect as well as a graphic designer, Campos brings a mature architectural eye and a keen attention to detail, light and color to his shots. His work has been published in dozens of well-known national and international books and publications. ArchDaily interviewed Campos to learn more about his start and artistic process. Read the entire interview, and check out his amazing images, after the break.
1. When and how did you start photographing architecture?
The possibility of seeing the world through the lens was something that fascinated me since I was very young. What I thought of as a hobby became more serious during my Architecture degree, when some colleagues invited me to photograph their works and projects. The passion for photography and my area of study naturally bonded, from projecting buildings I went on to photographing them, and, through that, becoming professional.
2. Are you an architect?
Yes, I am an architect and I dare say that’s a fundamental condition for one to be a good architectural photographer. I believe this is such a specific area of photography that academic training becomes crucial for one to have the sensibility to fully perceive the project or program. My technical knowledge allows me to be very at ease moving through the sites, helping me to critically focus on my work. I see architectural photography as a job that, many times, I consider as one of reinterpretation, that is, I feel that my knowledge and academic background allow me to highlight and present the projects of others through photography.
3. Why do you like to photograph architecture?
I managed to combine my two areas of interest: photography and architecture. I like to photograph angles, contrasts, different textures, I like to understand the integration of buildings in their surroundings. It is through photography that we can have a clearer notion of what’s real and I try to make my photographs portray that, without distortion or falsehood. I like to know that people will reflect about the nature of the project. I find it of the upmost importance that, as an artist/photographer, I can take a photograph that is faithful to reality because I’m documenting the work/vision of others, nevertheless, I won’t renounce to expressing myself artistically through my lens.
4. Favorite architect?
That’s a tough question and I don’t think I should name one, but I’ve been fortunate to work with architects that I admire and to take photographs of buildings that, in some fashion, impress me. It’s important for me to feel attracted by the building and its concept.
5. Favorite building?
Fascination is a very difficult thing to hold and even harder to maintain. So, my favourite building is always the one that lies ahead, the one I haven’t seen yet, the one I’m photographing next.
6. How do you work?
Most times it depends on the project and the deadline I have to take the photographs. Usually, before photographing, I try to understand, through the blueprints, what’s the building like and how’s it built. Ideally, I like to visit it without the camera, to get a grasp of the most interesting angles. I like to work alone and I like the peace that often comes from photographing empty buildings. Then, after that first tour, I like to get together with the architectural staff so they can convey me their vision of the program in question and the specific aspects they want to highlight. I start by developing my own perception of how I’m going to photograph. I try to keep a good hold on the light, because without light we can’t photograph. In architecture, it’s important to understand depth, the contrast between light and dark, full and empty, and, mostly, the framing, that I believe to be the most important. Good photographs are the ones that provoke emotions, sensations.
7. What kind of equipment and software do you use?
I take a lot of photographs without camera, because in the digital age it’s easy to start shooting and never stop. Several times I do it only with my sight. Because of this, I can say that my most valuable equipment is my eyes. Regarding the equipment itself, I use the most recent and specific for architectural photography, allied with the most current software in digital image treatment.